GOOD

How One Principal Recruited Role Models to Motivate His Black Male Students

The high school graduation rate for black males is only 47 percent. Role models and mentorship can reverse the crisis.


There are plenty of challenges in public schools, but the greatest crisis we face in education today is that of black male learners: The national high school graduation rate for black males is a shocking 47 percent.

Although that national rate is extremely low, when it is disaggregated by large school districts, the statistics become even more alarming. In many districts across the country, the high school graduation rate for black males ranges from 19 to 30 percent.


When you couple this graduation data with the percentages of black males who are suspended, expelled, and referred to special education—which is the highest referral rate in the nation—it becomes increasingly evident that this population is in great crisis. In fact, I would venture to say that, regarding the black male learner, we are in a national state of emergency. There is a direct correlation between these percentages and the number of black males who are incarcerated.

So, what is the problem? One alarming statistic is the percentage of black children in general, and black males in particular, who are born into households without a father or male figure. That number hovers at around 70 percent. If men are not present in the home, where are these boys going to find male role models? It won’t be in most of the schools they attend; black males constitute less than 2 percent of teachers in the United States.

As an educator for the past 21 years, I saw early on that these questions were not being answered. Year after year, I studied the data and saw that large numbers of black males were reading one to three years below grade level, which I determined had nothing to do with an inability to learn. As long as these boys lack proper models of excellence they can consistently see and interact with, we are merely spinning our wheels in trying to hold their attention in the classroom. Proper role models, who black males can relate to and identify with, allow them to see that there are men who have walked down the same road they are walking today and who have overcome adversity to live successful lives.

I decided that these desperate times for my black male students called for drastic measures. To meet this crisis head on, in my capacity as a school principal, I developed the Young Men’s Empowerment Program. The program has 12 components, but it's anchored by what we called Power Monday. On Power Mondays, all males were required to come to school in a shirt, tie, slacks, shoes, and belt. They looked like business professionals, and we were able to get parents to buy into the concept and support our effort.

Right after our morning announcements, I would call a grade level of male students—from all backgrounds, not just black males—to the cafeteria, where they'd be greeted by male staff and volunteers recruited from the community. In those thoroughly planned three-hour meetings, we would talk to the students and engage them in conversations about being men and about the challenges and the prospects for the future.

In the Power Monday meetings, my males had opportunities to hear from many men, including myself outside of my role as principal. We found black male role models that they can relate to and identify with, men who have overcome adversity to live successful lives. The students heard about our experiences and learned that, despite challenges and obstacles, success can still be theirs. And, although our school was majority black, because all males need strong role models, my male students from other racial and ethnic backgrounds also benefited from this experience.

As a result of these meetings, my male students began to grow and evolve. This translated into significant improvement in student achievement as well: within two years of starting the program, we received national recognition for our students’ achievement levels, which I attributed in large part to our Power Monday meetings.

Our success with Power Monday meetings and putting our black male students on the right track is something that can be replicated by any school. If our nation’s teachers, principals, and schools are truly committed to putting black males on the right path, they’ll make it happen.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user John Steven Fernandez

Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet